Dogs, Cats, Fish, Birds and Other Critters: The Happy and Unhappy Reality Of Pets

People have pets although sometimes pets have people. Actually, it might be one and the same thing really.

by Neil Bamforth

Personally, I’ve never entirely trusted, and frequently found I’ve disliked, people who don’t have a pet – unless they want to and can’t for some reason.

Generally, it’s a dog or a cat or more than one. It can be fish or birds or rabbits or hamsters. It can even be more exotic things like lizards or spiders. Outside pets are far from rare such as miniature ponies or pigs or goats. Usually, people who own pets are very nice. Mind you, there are people who are owned by their pets. These are invariably cat owners.

You see people who own a dog, or even several, do actually own them. Dogs sit when they’re told to and roll over when they’re told to.Β  Generally, dog owners are fine but they can be a bit like control freaks as they show off their abilities to make their dogs do whatever they say.

People who own fish are not usually very good conversationalists. Well, you don’t get very far discussing the latest state of the world with a goldfish, do you? I’ve got fish in my garden pond and when I look at it, they surface as if saying ‘hello, who are you?’

Two minutes later I look in again and they surface as if saying ‘hello, who are you?’ – hence, I presume, the saying about a forgetful person having ‘a mind like an absent-minded goldfish’.

Rabbits are fine if you like that sort of thing. I once upset a pal who had got a pet rabbit by asking her if she’d found any good recipes and could she make my piece medium rare.

My insistence that I loved Richard Adams ‘Watership Down’ seemed to do little to placate her. Clearly a bit touchy are rabbit owners.

I have absolutely no idea why anyone ever owns a hamster or a gerbil. Apart from the fact they die in a couple of years or thereabouts it hardly seems worth it really. Even goldfish live longer than that. It’s probably all that running around little wheels all day that knackers them out – that’s hamsters, not goldfish incidentally.

Now if you owned a goldfish that ran around a wheel all day that would be something! A goldfish with little legs running around a wheel. You couldn’t keep it of course. It would be worth a fortune so you’d sell it for mega bucks.

Having outside pets seems daft to me. What’s the point? Not too bad in the summer but having to go outside in the freezing cold? Madness. Still, some do. Pet pigs and small ponies and goats. I suppose a goat isn’t too bad if you have a large garden. Saves mowing the lawn. If we had a pet pig I wonder how long it would be before I’d be in trouble for turning into bacon sandwiches?

My pal’s son has a lizard. It has spikes. Personally, I think it’s really dead and he’s had it stuffed. The bloody thing never seems to move. It just sits under a hot lamp. Actually, it did move once when I was there. Either that or the beer was making the room spin and I happened to look at it.

Birds can be fun. I remember a Myna bird perched at a shop entrance in Cornwall whilst on a school surfing holiday. Every time you walked into the shop it actually said – in a birdy chirp kind of way – “Fuck off!” Seriously, it did! Some adults were mortified and complained to the shop owner. He just shrugged and claimed they’d misheard.

Parrots and Parakeets and so on are quite sensible pets to have. You can teach them to talk. Mind you, if you find you’re losing arguments to them it might be a worry.

Statistics often show that the second most popular pet after dogs are cats.

This is categorically incorrect.

It is categorically incorrect because cats are not pets. Cats are not, in any way shape or form, your pet. You just, quite mistakenly, think they are.

In the case of all other birds and beasts, they live in your home. If you have a cat, you live in the cats home.

Yes, you’ve paid off the mortgage and believe you own the property. Perhaps you’re still paying off the mortgage but it’s still yours as long as you keep paying the mortgage. Perhaps you rent so it’s only yours as long as you pay the rent. Wrong.

It is not yours.

You can pay the bills and clean the place but the true owner is the cat – or cats. It is their place and you’d better not forget it.

You can virtually read a cats mind.

“What? No food? I’ll shit on the bed then”

“What? The litter tray isn’t clean? It was 2 minutes ago I used it! Right, it’s your fault the sofa gets shredded!”

“What do you mean it’s 2 in the morning? I want food! Right, it’s your fault my claws got stuck in your head!”

“What do you mean by screaming? I brought you this headless mouse as a gift you ungrateful bastard!”

“What do you mean by screaming? I left this one’s head on didn’t I?”

“Stop complaining! I only furballed on your face cause you got cross when I do it on the duvet!”

“What friendly little robin in the garden? Feathers in my mouth? What feathers?”

“So? Did I lick my ass before your face? So what? My ass tasted nicer!”

“Let’s get this straight. This is my house. You want to stay fine but here’s the deal. Feed me on demand at any time of the day. Keep my litter tray spotless. Appreciate all the rodent and birdy gifts I bring you. Worship the ground I walk on and the ground I am about to walk on. Always put me first, second and everything. Accept you are not important unless you are serving me. Acknowledge that my reasonable demands are, in fact, very reasonable. Then we’ll get along fine”.

Apart from the above, cats are magnificent. Actually, even with all that they are – and you’re in big trouble if you don’t acknowledge that.

I have been asked by our little brood to say “As long as you accept cats are better than any other life form then they will not come over and claw your eyes out too frequently” – which, I have to say, seems fair enough to me.

A belated Happy New Year from Maximus Spittimus, The Stealth Bomber, Marie Bug, Jinxie Butterball Crumpet, Jake, Elwood and Bonnie Bonkins.

For 35 years we’ve had cats. From The Duke to Princess Puffball to Gracie Mae The Fruit Bat. From Monty to Bumble to Tilly Tootoo.

Trust me, if you have a dog or a tortoise or a hamster or a cockatoo you’ve got a pet or, if you have more than one, you have pets.

If you’ve got a cat or cats they have got a pet.


Besides. They couldn’t be pets. They’re family.

RIP Purrrdy. Run over by a car the other day. Her ashes will be scattered in the garden. She’s coming home.

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Posted by on January 5, 2018. Filed under COMMENTARY/OPINION. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
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37 Responses to Dogs, Cats, Fish, Birds and Other Critters: The Happy and Unhappy Reality Of Pets

  1. jess Reply

    January 5, 2018 at 8:15 am

    My cats do not go outside unless I go with them. They would try and escape and I don’t want them hurt. Sad for you about your kitty.

    • Neil Bamforth Reply

      January 5, 2018 at 11:57 am

      Cats should be free ranging creatures but if you live somewhere not conducive to that then fair enough.

      Give em a meow from me 😻

      • Maria1949 Reply

        January 5, 2018 at 12:36 pm

        sorry about your kitty-cat, and sorry i can’t agree with you. cats should never be allowed to roam. they are murderous little critters that threaten other living creatures. they kill, for fun in many cases, millions upon millions of birds, and yet, good-hearted folk like you, animal lovers, think that’s fine. not fine. not right. your beloved cat was killed by a car because you have the mistaken idea that cats should be “free ranging creatures” and they should not, and little purdy paid the price for your misplaced arrogance. sad is what it is.

        • Neil Bamforth Reply

          January 5, 2018 at 1:35 pm

          I can’t recall reading anything so misguided and wrong for a long time.

          Cats, whilst domesticated, are not instinctively capable of domesticity as are dogs.

          Cats have retained their hunting instincts. They don’t hunt and kill for fun, they do so through instinct.

          In Britain, by law, they are free ranging animals.

          I do understand your anger regarding cats killing birds and so forth but it is instinct not fun.

          Cats can never be fully domesticated solely because they are cats.


          I have no arrogance regarding cats. Just knowledge dear.

          • Shirley Reply

            January 5, 2018 at 5:52 pm

            I’m sorry Neil but allowing animals that are pets to roam free is dangerous to them. My friend loves his cats and used to let them roam until one was killled by a car, another by a dog, and one by a raccoon. Frustrated he built them their own yard with scratching post, small trees. Plants and bushes abound. His cats are now safe while being able to enjoy the outside. I know lots of people, me as well, who keep their cats indoors where they aren’t threatened. They are perfectly happy, healthy and most importantly safe.

            • Neil Bamforth Reply

              January 6, 2018 at 2:42 am

              If cats are kept indoors from birth and know nothing else – cruel as it is – then so be it.

              Again, with respect, you are mistaking cats as pets a la dogs etc.

              Cats have retained wild instincts in ways other domesticated animals haven’t.

              Keeping them indoors is just wrong I’m afraid.

              Building them their own outside area is excellent.

              • Shirley Reply

                January 6, 2018 at 1:51 pm

                Not mistaking anything Neil. I’ve six cats and two dogs. The dogs I walk, the cats romp around the house quite content and happy. Keeping them indoors is right. Keeping them outdoors is wrong.

                • Neil Bamforth Reply

                  January 6, 2018 at 4:01 pm

                  In America maybe. America, of course, is wrong 😽

          • Douglas Thorne Reply

            January 5, 2018 at 7:35 pm

            Since having an indoor cat I must admit I don’t like the idea of letting cats out alone (despite having outdoor cats in the past)- you just don’t know what they’re doing, if they’re in danger, where they’re doing their business, whether they’re pestering neighbours etc. I wised up after I caught a bloke throwing rocks at my Lacey and, after knocking his block off, took her in the house never to be let out again. She’s quite happy and definitely safe from arshole neighbours.

            • Neil Bamforth Reply

              January 6, 2018 at 2:47 am

              I like you! 😸

              I do understand the desire to keep them safe. I share that desire for my own cats.

              Two survived being shot with a ball bearing air gun. They returned to their freedoms once healed.

              There is no intentional cruelty in keeping them in. They may even appear content.

              They aren’t.

      • jess Reply

        January 5, 2018 at 8:47 pm

        No they should not, cats that are free range do not live as long as indoor cats. Too many things can happen to them when they are outside with no supervision. I had a custom built catio made**, that is enclosed, and they can get to it from a cat door that goes right into it from the window. It allows them to be “outside” to get their fill of nature but keeps them very safe. I put cat safe plants in there for them and they love it. My dogs go in there once in a while with them, for no other reason than they think they can herd them. They are really stupid dogs, while my cats are treacherous little bastards that would kill me in my sleep πŸ™‚

        ** I know not everyone can afford that but I want my cats around for longer than the 5-9 yr life span of an outdoor kitty. My last one died when he was 18 years old.

        • Neil Bamforth Reply

          January 6, 2018 at 2:51 am

          That’s well cool! One of our Cats Protection fosterers has a similar set up as do our sanctuaries.

          They get outside. That’s the point! 😸

  2. Michael John Scott Reply

    January 5, 2018 at 9:26 am

    Sorry about Purrrdy old bean. Sudden tragedy is not uncommon for those of us who love our critters.

    • Neil Bamforth Reply

      January 5, 2018 at 11:59 am

      They’re family mate aren’t they? Always hurts.

      Still, she had a good life I guess.

      Lived longer than a hamster anyway….

  3. Diane Burroughs Reply

    January 5, 2018 at 7:30 pm

    I’m sorry you lost your family pet, but I couldn’t help but read the balance of this discussion and I found these links which stress why you should NEVER let your cat roam free. Didn’t you once walk your friend’s dog off leash in some misguided idea that dogs should be allowed to roam free? Do I remember that? Anyway Neil, you need to keep your cats in, not expose them to the neighbourhood and all it’s many dangers:

    Here are just two examples. I hope you read these articles. There are hundreds more warning of allowing cats to roam. As to cats hunt by ‘instinct,’ that is true, but I don’t want them instinctively hunting the bloody birds around my feeder, and I doubt our neighbours and friends want them hunting the ducks in the park. Keep them in please. Ta.

    • jess Reply

      January 5, 2018 at 8:49 pm

      Yeah he did with the dog and some of us gave him a whole ration of shit about doing that. It ended up he went with the leash because we all jumped on him if I remember correctly.

      • Neil Bamforth Reply

        January 6, 2018 at 2:52 am

        I didn’t really 😜

        • jess Reply

          January 6, 2018 at 10:22 am

          You big butthead. You told us you were going to start using the leash for her, when we gave you so much shit about not doing so.

          • Neil Bamforth Reply

            January 6, 2018 at 4:03 pm

            Well I did take the leash….it just got stuck in my pocket 😜

    • Neil Bamforth Reply

      January 6, 2018 at 2:54 am

      Excellent!!! Now this is brilliant!

      I might have a different view but you can’t beat a healthy debate.

      Brilliant! Thank you x

  4. Rachael Reply

    January 5, 2018 at 8:52 pm

    Sorry about your cat Norman. I know how much that hurts.

    • Neil Bamforth Reply

      January 6, 2018 at 2:55 am

      😿 xx

  5. Mike Reply

    January 5, 2018 at 11:45 pm

    I just recently lost my wee dog. Was devastated and still am. So sorry about your Purdddy.

    • Neil Bamforth Reply

      January 6, 2018 at 2:55 am

      😿 xx remember the good times

    • jess Reply

      January 6, 2018 at 10:21 am

      So sorry about your “wee dog”.

  6. Neil Bamforth Reply

    January 6, 2018 at 5:13 am

    It may be worth pointing out that there are, for want of a better description, cultural differences here.

    In Britain there is a law stating that cats are free ranging therefore it is illegal to harm them just because they are on your property.

    Also, I believe, it is quite legal in America to declaw cats? In Britain this is considered barbaric and illegal.

    So, where we disagree it may well be primarily cultural.

    Where, I would suggest, we all wholeheartedly agree, is that we love animals in general and, in my case, cats and dogs particularly.

    My cats will continue to go wherever they like whilst, it appears, yours won’t.

    No matter. We love them. That’s the most important thing eh?

    • jess Reply

      January 6, 2018 at 10:20 am

      It’s illegal to harm them here also but that does not stop the car careening up the street hitting the cat or the idiot that sees a cat and thinks,oh I know I should torture this poor animal to death. Oh don’t get me started on the whole declawing deal with cats. It is barbaric and cruel to chop away toes that cause much harm when a cat gets older.

      • Neil Bamforth Reply

        January 7, 2018 at 3:09 am

        I absolutely share those worries Jess.

        We have a cat killer – along with the odd fox – in London at the mo. Some incidents getting closer to us albeit still a way off.

        Whoever it is not only kills the cats but sometimes sends their mutilated bodies too the owners – which means they’re carefully planning things.

        How sick can you be??? 😠😠😠

    • Hayley Mc. Reply

      January 6, 2018 at 2:02 pm

      You make it sound like there’s a law in the UK which says cats must be allowed to roam free. That’s nonsense of course. The Act which protects cats while they range free was passed using the examples of differences between dogs and cats. Dogs must be leashed because they will behave on a leash. Cats will not, therefore a law was passed saying that cats could be allowed to roam. The law doesn’t say “cats are instinctive hunters and owners are required to allow them to roam free so they can kill every bloody thing that lives that is smaller than them.” What bollocks.

      Secondly, there’s no cultural difference. It’s not against the law in the USA to allow cats to roam, and cat owners do it at their own risk. Secondly many states in the US don’t allow declawing, so don’t go off half-cocked here and act like you know what you are talking about when it comes to laws in the US. You don’t.

      Now if you want to make an issue about it how about writing about this? You’re a bloody conservative, aren’t you? You are for Brexit even though you told us you voted against it at the ballot box. What a crock of shit. Anyway, write about what your conservative pals are doing. Animals can’t feel pain eh? Like America’s Trumpers you gang are: ANTI-SCIENCE!

      • Neil Bamforth Reply

        January 6, 2018 at 2:23 pm

        Calm down dear or you’ll start having palpitations πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜ΈπŸ˜ΈπŸ˜ΈπŸ˜Έ

      • Neil Bamforth Reply

        January 6, 2018 at 2:26 pm

        I don’t suppose you’ve got a pet hamster too? πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

        Oh boy…I needed a laugh.. Thank you πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

  7. Neil Bamforth Reply

    January 6, 2018 at 1:48 pm

    In The UK cats are actually protected under ‘The Wildlife Act’ hence they are, over here, considered wildlife rather than entirely domestic.

    You are right Jess. There are some nasty bastards out there…

    • M Bates Reply

      January 6, 2018 at 8:45 pm

      Neil please ignore your critics, you are absolutely right about folks who don’t own a pet or two, they are untrustworthy and most unlikeable. Sorry about the loss of your pussy.

      • Neil Bamforth Reply

        January 7, 2018 at 3:05 am

        Ta for the last bit.

        Something of a generalisation? I know many who don’t have pets but they’ve bought me a beer so must be ok πŸ˜€πŸΊ

  8. Neil Bamforth Reply

    January 7, 2018 at 3:02 am

    Talk about eating your words! (Which I’m not) an un-neutered tom somehow managed to get past our sleeping crew and sprayed in the dining room.

    Boy does it smell!!πŸ˜ΈπŸ˜ΈπŸ˜ΈπŸ˜‚

    • Neil Bamforth Reply

      January 7, 2018 at 5:58 am

      Hoisted on my own petard 😸😸😸

    • jess Reply

      January 7, 2018 at 2:31 pm

      There you go then, still liking that whole free range cat thing Neil?

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